We absolutely love finding unique train journeys to experience around the globe, and when we saw that the historic UNESCO World Heritage toy train was on our On The Go Tours itinerary we were unbelievably excited to hop onboard!
This railway, that winds you up through rugged mountains, was built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla. This is now deemed one of the most scenic train journeys in India, which takes you up steep tracks 2,276m above sea level.
Check out our YouTube video below to watch our full experience, and keep scrolling to find out more about the famous toy train and the incredible town of Shimla.
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Toy Train from Kalka to Shimla
The toy train connects Kalka and Shimla, located north of Chandigarh in Indias mountainous northern state of Himachal Pradesh. It runs for 96km (60 miles), taking you through 20 railway stations, 103 tunnels, 800 bridges, and 900 curves! The longest tunnel stretches for more than a kilometer, and from that tunnel to Shimla is where you will see the best views.
As the train is on a steep incline its speed is quite restricted, but this allows for some spectacular sightseeing along the way. The journey takes around 5 to 6 hours and after our experience we can confirm that this is one for the bucket list!
Things to Do in Shimla
1. Go Shopping at Lakkar Bazar
Shimla has some amazing shopping spots, and one of our favourites is Lakkar Bazar. This long stretch of shops running on either side of the street is most popular for its wooden artefacts, but you can also get all types of souvenirs and little gifts to bring home.
The market place was started by a group of Sikh carpenters that came and settled here. Since the beginning they make beautiful wooden products from woods such as deodars and walnut, which are commonly found around Shimla.
2. Hike to Jakhoo Hill
If you are wanting to do a hike during your time in Shimla we highly recommend hiking to the top of Jakhoo Hill. Here you will find a temple that is very sacred for the Hindu community of India. Dedicated to the Monkey God, Hanumanm, this hike will take you 2.5km from the Ridge and 2,455m above sea level – Shimla’s highest peak.
From the top you will be greeted to a spectacular panoramic view of Shivalik Ranges, and get up-close to the 32m tall Lord Hanuman.
3. Visit the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
Built by the British, this stunning building was used as a summer retreat for the Indian President. It has now been converted into the institute to promote advanced studies in arts & humanities. The grand architecture and the beautiful surroundings makes it one of the most popular spots to visit in Shimla.
4. If you are visiting in the winter … go ice skating
If you are visiting in December to February you need to check out the only natural ice skating rink in India, located right here in Shimla.
The ice is formed by a special technique that the British taught the Garhwali highlanders. The thickly forested hillside keeps it shaded and the low temperatures in winters prevent it from melting!
5. Go White River Rafting
If you are an adrenaline junkie, one of the most adventurous things to do in Shimla is to go River Rafting. The river Sutlej which flows near the city is the most popular spot, carrying you from Chabba to Tattapani across 12kms and will take you around 2 hours to finish.
IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE ALL THIS AND MORE, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND CHECKING OUT THE 13 DAY TOUR WE DID IN INDIA WITH ON THE GO TOURS.
A big thank you to On The Go Tours for inviting Flying The Nest to visit India and sponsoring this incredible trip, as always all opinions are our own.